When she inhales her food, she really inhales her food.
June 1, 2010 1:11 AM   Subscribe

OK, doggie health defect question. Can a large hole in the roof of an adult dog's mouth be fixed, or is this something that will have to be managed?

(YANMV, and I have an appointment in a couple of days to discuss this with the vet.) We adopted an English bulldog last month. We knew going in that the little (and I do mean little - she's a whopping 20 pounds) girl had some serious issues. There are neurological issues, she's missing an eye, occasional incontinence, and more. The best guess of her age is about six years old. We don't know if she was born like this, or if she suffered some sort of trauma. The vet who saw her for the rescue organization has very little data and didn't remark on a lot of pretty obvious issues, so we're basically dealing with no medical history on her.

She has had issues with sneezing, and it seemed like sometimes feeding time would trigger a sneezing episode. Then one day we were on the back porch, and she rolled on her back to collect a belly rub, and when she opened her mouth we saw it. She has a hole in the roof of her mouth about the size of a quarter. So it looks like we have a palate issue with her, and now the sneezing makes a whole lot more sense.

Can this be fixed? Everything I've been finding online has talked about this kind of issue being repaired in puppies. For dogs at her age, though, I can't find anything. We're seeing the vet in a couple of days, but I'm just trying to get an idea of things beforehand. If it needs to be managed, we'll manage it as best as possible. But if we can get this fixed, it would make a huge difference to her.

(About her - yes, she has issues, but she's very happy to be alive. She's full of energy and life, and loves to get out on the leash. Give her a toy and watch her go. Play fetch with her and watch how proudly she brings the toy back. She loves to meet people and boy, does she do a happy dance when one of us comes home from work. Also, she seems pretty darn smart, which is unusual for the breed. Despite the palate and neuro issues, she has good quality of life, and that's the most important factor in any of our decisions.)
posted by azpenguin to Pets & Animals (1 answer total)
So, your girl is a textbook case of what happens when the breeder or first owner doesn't repair a cleft palate. Stunted growth and the constant sneezing (she's clearing saliva and/or food out of her nose that has come in through the hole in her mouth) are the result when nothing is done.

Cleft palate in dogs is congenital, and severe cases (which it sounds like your dog has -- with a quarter-sized hole as an adult, I'm surprised that she lived to grow up) often accompany other defects like neurological problems and heart problems. Ask your vet to give a careful listen for abnormal heart sounds. Surgery in adult dogs is possible, but prognosis is going to depend on how bad it is and if it affects the hard palate, the soft palate, or both. It's going to be expensive (I'd budget $2500-$3000 for the surgery alone, prolly closer to $4000 for all the vet visits, medications, etc to get it repaired).
posted by Concolora at 6:08 AM on June 1, 2010

« Older Looking to move to NYC and become an EMT. Got any...   |   Working from home as a translator or adjunct... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.